YOLO COUNTY NEWS

Aggies

UCD looks forward to tests

By November 16, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

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Sure, the UC Davis women\’s basketball team would like to win a couple of games on this week\’s Southern California road trip. But the Aggies also know they are going into a pair of lions\’ dens when they visit Pepperdine on Friday and No. 15 UCLA on Sunday.

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“It\’s early. These games are nonconference,” UCD head coach Sandy Simpson says. “So we don\’t want to place too much (importance) on them.

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“It\’ll be a chance to measure ourselves against a ranked team … and we haven\’t been in tight situations. That\’s something I\’m most looking forward to: how we respond when he hit five or six minutes of a bad (stretch).”

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In blasting past Washington State (77-35) and San Francisco (69-45), the 2-0 locals have been in control from start to finish.

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“I am really pleased with how hard we played in each game, both halves,” Simpson continues. “The intensity has been great. I\’d say we played smarter … and executed a little better against Washington State. We\’ve been a lot more competitive against those bigger teams. That\’s an improvement from last year, the rebounding.”

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And the aggressive defense. The transition game. Inside play. Passing. The list of areas in which UCD appears to have improved goes on …

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Plus, these Aggies — picked by a media panel to win the Big West — are deep. Very deep.

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In the Washington State blowout, UCD saw nine players get more than 12 minutes on the court. Heidi Heintz led the Aggies with 14 points and post Paige Mintun contributed 13. Forward Vicky Deely had eight rebounds, was 2-of-5 from 3-point land and had three steals. With Mintun (seven) and Lauren Juric (five) also strong on the boards, UCD was unforgiving after Cougar misses. Forty rebounds often meant one and out for the visitors, who went 0-for-19 shooting treys.

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“Paige has been terrific,” Simpson notes. “And Heidi holds down the middle of our zone defense. I think Deely has played particularly well and (Samantha) Meggison had six steals in the first half against Washington. She allows us to do some different things while Hana (Asano) was good at running things.

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“Kasey Riecks? Well, she was Kasey.”

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Simpson laughed as he thought about the inspired play of his junior from Placer High, especially after intermission.

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“She always seems to play better in the second half,” the coach concluded.

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As strong as the team defense has been thus far, Simpson needs the focus to continue at Malibu and in Los Angeles.

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“A lot of our success early on has been holding teams down,” the former Washington State assistant continues. “If we win (this weekend), that is a real statement for the growth of the program.”

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Each game will present a different problem for the Aggies.

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At West Coast Conference power Pepperdine, Jazmine Jackson and Lauren Bell — a pair of 5-foot-9 guards by way of Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep in the Bay Area — will try to test UCD on the perimeter. So far this season, Jackson has averaged 19 points as the Waves have split two games, losing last week to Nevada-Reno, 66-61, despite forcing 37 turnovers.

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On Sunday at Pauley Pavilion, the Pac-10 Bruins will bang away inside with forwards Jasmine Dixon and Market Walker. Dixon, a 6-footer from Long Poly Beach High, transferred to UCLA from Rutgers. in wins over San Diego State and UC Santa Barbara, Dixon has 27 points and double-digit rebounds. The 6-1 Walker has averaged 10 a game.

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Head coach Nikki Caldwell, whose Bruins were 26-9 a year ago, is a former assistant to Pat Summitt at Tennessee. She\’s in her third year at UCLA.

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Notes: When court general Asano takes a rest in comes University of Utah transfer Hannah Stephens to run the show. Stephens is a 5-7 guard from San Mateo who has played 31 minutes in the first two games. … Pepperdine was 20-12 a year ago. … Speaking of starting fast: UCD has 16 steals in the first half and jumped out to a 24-4 lead against Washington State. … The Aggies were 21-11 last season, losing to UC Riverside in the Big West championship game. Relegated to the WNIT, UCD then lost the opener to California in overtime. The Bears went on to win the NIT crown. … UCD returns home Nov. 26 to face Yale, then plays South Carolina at The Pavilion on Nov. 28, before closing out the homestand on Dec. 1 with St. Mary\’s. … The win over WSU was the Aggies\’ first over a Pac-10 team since going Division I in 2007.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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